By Woodrow Wilcox
On the morning of June 29, 2011, I received a fax which was a copy of a payment demand letter from a bill collection law firm regarding an $1100 bill to one of our clients. On the fax was a handwritten note which said, “Supplemental insurance is supposed to pay for this!” The bill was for a client who is an elderly woman from Hobart, Indiana.
The note was not signed. I tracked and contacted the sender by calling the firm from which the fax was sent. I learned that the fax was sent by the angry daughter of one of our clients. I got an earful from the angry daughter. It was a lovely way to start my day.
I know that people are busy. I know that children of the elderly who care for their parents have a busy schedule. But, why not alert your parent’s insurance agency of a medical bill problem before it is sent to a collection attorney? The sooner an insurance agent or agency learns of a medical bill problem, the easier it will be to work to fix the problem. Doesn’t that just make more sense than waiting until a payment demand letter is sent from a law office?
Still, I worked to resolve the matter. I phoned the insurance company and confirmed my suspicion that Medicare never sent the claim to our client’s insurance company. I phoned the hospital to request their cooperation to send essential billing information to the insurance company so that the claim could be paid.
The first hospital representative did not want to do that. “Once the bill is sent to collections, we won’t do anything else with it,” the first representative told me bluntly. I asked to speak to her supervisor. The supervisor was more reasonable. She was cautious, too. She would not do what I asked only because the patient did not give the insurance information at the admission time. The supervisor suggested an alternative action which made her more comfortable legally. That was fine with me.
Despite that phone call, I wrote a letter to the hospital about the $1100 claim. I am confident that my work for the client will resolve the bill and collection matter. I know that the Medicare system fails many senior citizens with its terrible mistakes. But, it would have been easier for me to help with this bill problem if the bill had been sent to me before it went to a collection attorney or a collection agency.
I am able to help most of our clients with billing problems. In less than eight years, I saved the clients of this insurance agency over one million dollars by correcting medical bill errors that were caused by mistakes in the Medicare system. The three matters in which usually I am unable to help a client are (1) when the bill problem is given to me too late and the deadlines for changing matters have passed, (2) when a client has signed an ADVANCE BENEFICIARY NOTICE which obligates the patient to pay the bill even if Medicare refuses to pay anything, and (3) when the bill problem is caused by another policy of Medicare and the federal government which is designed to push more costs onto senior citizens in order to help the federal government to save money.
All the help that I gave to this senior citizen on the $1100 hospital bill was provided FREE OF CHARGE. The owners and managers of this insurance agency care about their senior citizen clients and employ me to help with such problems. Does your insurance agent or agency provide the same high level of service? If not, why not?
Note: Woodrow Wilcox is the senior medical bill case worker at Senior Care Insurance Services in Merrillville, Indiana. That is one of the largest senior citizens oriented insurance agencies in the Midwest.
© 2011 Woodrow Wilcox